The Times West Virginian

July 29, 2012

Trend of improvement

WorkForce West Virginia: Unemployment rate should continue to drop

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — WorkForce West Virginia believes the state’s unemployment rate will continue to improve.

The Labor Market Information unit of WorkForce West Virginia’s Research, Information and Analysis Division recently published labor force estimates for the state for June 2012.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 1.1 percent over the past year, dropping from 8.1 percent in June 2011 to 7.0 percent in June of this year. But the rate went up slightly — .1 percent — compared to May 2012, when it was 6.9 percent.

“We often see a slight uptick in the unemployment rate in June, as graduates and students off for the summer seek employment,” said Joe Jarvis, employment programs specialist with WorkForce West Virginia.

The national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent for both May and June, down .9 percent from last June’s rate of 9.1 percent.

From May to June, West Virginia experienced an increase of 1,100 unemployed residents, with total unemployment going from 55,500 to 56,600. West Virginia’s total unemployment decreased 7,600 from June 2011, when the number was 64,200.

Total employment in June 2012 was 748,500, down from 750,100 in May 2012 and up from 731,700 in June of last year.

WorkForce West Virginia’s latest report shows that the total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 1,200 from May to June, representing a loss of 800 jobs in the goods-producing sector and 400 in the service-providing sector. Jarvis said construction, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation and utilities were the industries that saw job losses.

However, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by nearly 10,600 compared to June of last year, showing the addition of 12,400 jobs in the service-providing sector and the decline of 1,800 jobs in the goods-producing sector. Construction, educational and health services, and professional and business services experienced strong growth, he said.

“Historically, the July seasonally adjusted unemployment rate registers no change, or increases slightly,” Jarvis said. “The unemployment rate should fall as autumn approaches, but this will depend on the strength of the economy. January through June of 2012 have produced lower unemployment rates and larger civilian labor forces than for the same months last year. There is no reason to expect this trend to end.”

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate came to 7.3 percent in both May and June, showing a .9 percent drop from the rate of 8.2 percent in June 2011.

“The not seasonally adjusted numbers reflected a slight increase in total unemployment, as well as growth in total employment, thus preventing a change in the rate,” Jarvis said.

WorkForce West Virginia also released Labor Market Information by West Virginia County for June 2012. The organization recently changed its county release map to show whether county rates have risen, fallen or remained the same from month to month, rather than comparing each county against the state average like in the past.

Twenty-five of the counties in the state experienced a decrease in their unemployment rates from May to June of this year, while 23 counties saw growing rates. The rates did not change in Marion, Jefferson, Nicholas, Raleigh, Ritchie, Taylor and Webster counties.

Jarvis reported that an almost even split like this also happened in June 2011. At that time, 26 counties had unemployment rates that grew and 26 had rates that dropped.

“June was the first month this year to see a nearly even split between rising and falling county unemployment rates,” he said.

During the months of January, February and May, increasing rates were seen across the majority of the counties. In March and April, on the other hand, most counties reported decreasing rates, Jarvis said.

The counties that had unemployment rates below 6 percent were Monroe, Putnam, Jefferson and Monongalia. Mason, Webster and Boone counties were the only counties with unemployment rates greater than 11 percent.

“Very little change has occurred in Marion County’s unemployment rate this year,” Jarvis said.

He said the county saw its lowest rate of the year in March, at 5.9 percent. The rate — not seasonally adjusted — went up to 6.5 percent in May and was the same in June.

Marion County’s unemployment rate in June of last year was 7.2 percent. In June 2012, Marion County’s civilian labor force was 26,740, total employment was 25,010, and total unemployment was 1,740. The total nonfarm payroll employment came to 22,120, with the goods-producing sector having 3,800 workers and the service-providing sector having 18,330 workers.

As for May, the civilian labor force for the county was 26,690, total employment was 24,960, and total unemployment was 1,720. The total nonfarm payroll employment added up to 22,230, reflecting 3,730 workers in the goods-producing sector and 18,500 workers in the service-providing sector.

Marion County’s numbers for June 2011 were as follows: civilian labor force, 26,570; total employment, 24,650; total unemployment, 1,920; total nonfarm payroll employment, 22,130; goods-producing sector, 4,000; and service-providing sector, 18,130.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.